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Charlie's Game Ideas: Part Derp

Time for another round of game ideas from your friendly neighborhood Charlie Mic!

 

Enjoy.

 

Game #4: It’s time to juice up the horror genre with a game simply titled “Bees at Midnight”. Really, think about it: What could be scarier than swarms of killer bees in pitch-black darkness? The only thing possibly more terrifying is if you were running away from the swarms of bees, hands out in front of you because you can’t see where the hell you are going, and your face suddenly becomes totally enveloped in a Black Widow’s web. Honestly, picture this game in your mind: The screen shows a situation of extremely low light, but you hear buzzing all the time and can barely make out the thin, soulless black legs crawling across your screen with that ominous red hourglass in the middle. Don’t let people puss out by adjusting the darkness via the graphics options, either, that is tantamount to cheating in “Bees at Midnight”. No guns, no survival, just an avatar and his short-lived sprint through a bee- and spider-infested woodland. If you actually survive two minutes before dying, you run into a bear that eats your face. This game will be categorized in the horror genre, but it will serve as a single-player equivalent to the experience someone has when they are BAD at multiplayer games: flailing around for two minutes between deaths hoping you don’t haphazardly run into a hazardous condition because you don’t know where the hell you are going, hoping to actually accomplish some feat. As is the case when you have at least one kill between deaths during a MW3 match, the player of “Bees at Midnight” will eventually settle for “Meh, at least I made it to the bear” before respawning and doing it all again. For an equally frustrating flail-to-no-avail experience, try playing the Steel Battalion demo for Kinect.

Game #5: I have always considered the Sims games to be this overbearingly chipper depiction of our own society, and the series has done nothing for me but bore and disappoint. In the same vein as when RockStar went from making exciting murder games like “Manhunt” to lackluster Bart Simpson simulators like “Bully”, I think the Sims needs to take a new road with their own series: Mentally handicapped Sims. The story would be that a malicious line of code was implemented in the newest iteration of SimCity that causes all Sims to go Simtarded. The only Sim not affected was Robert Neville, who happens to be a programmer. You start the game by building Neville’s house and fortifying it against all the rubberheaded Sims out there trying to find their baseball in your domicile, which ends by writing a completely clean copy of The Sims 2 and installing it on all the computers of the retarded Sims. If there’s one thing you will learn about Charlie Mic’s gaming taste, it is that he has a strong feeling that only retards play The Sims. That’s right, I went third person on ya. Anyways, Neville now has the ability to move about during the day while the SimTards are glued to their computer screens, gathering programming certifications and furthering his goal of rewriting that faulty script before nightfall. Call it “i.R.Lejend” to avoid copyright lawsuits, and explain the basis of the plot to people who didn’t get it before.

Game #6:Kingdom Hearts 3. No joke, I really want an ACTUAL sequel to the Kingdom Hearts series that isn’t handheld and doesn’t suck. And just because Disney owns Marvel now doesn’t mean you can throw the Avengers in there, mattafac please don’t. Yes, that’s really my third game idea. Most of you would think “That’s not very creative”, and I will agree with you. It’s not creative on my part, and it doesn’t take a very creative or intelligent mind to deduce that a third installment in the Kingdom Hearts series is something that should be made. Somehow, though, SquEnix and Disney aren’t doing it and that sucks. It leaves a hole in my heart, after the trailer for the third one came out years ago. 

 

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Enter the Tragic Villain

So many game companies today are looking to please their fans, and I think that makes good sense considering the fans indirectly feed their children. The problem is, however, that every developer has different views on how to achieve that.


        Look at the differences between Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr; both mutants wanted to not have to begin and end every day in a constant struggle with the human race, but they had radically different ideas on how to achieve that goal. Magneto is the tragic villain who wanted to enslave or destroy the obviously inferior humans believing that was the best way to achieve peace, while Captain Pic-I mean Professor X wanted to appeal to humanity’s, erm, humanity, and negotiate that peace with them. Left to their own devices without any opposition, either could have succeeded. The problem is that given the option, neither humans NOR mutants could decide which one they actually would like better. Diff’rent Strokes, and all that jazz.

 
        I'll tell you what I'm talking about: Game developers are much the same. They all want to amuse us gamers, and we all want to be amused but NOBODY can decide the perfect way to accomplish that task. Some gamers prefer the Call of Duty approach, which legitimizes annual installments with upgraded graphics and features while maintaining the same basic game structure, premise, story and control scheme. This obviously pleases both their fanbase and the developers, because franchises like Call of Duty have dominated sales. Go to any GameStop, there is only one game that is still above $50 after months of being available for retail: Call of Duty.

        Still, ask other gamers and you’ll get a swift answer about how Call of Duty is for quick-trigger frat boys (Don’t see where friedricearoni fits in there…) and that real gamers play games with a little more substance…as they boot up their most recent Assassin’s Creed purchase. This franchise is, again, one with almost if not actually annual installments that legitimizes its existence with a continuation of story and features while pretty much being the same game as the previous installment. This also works for the Uncharted franchise, because we see an improvement over time in Nathan Drake’s movements and abilities (but not gunplay? Ugh…) while the story progresses. The truth is that I loved the Uncharted series but I hope Naughty Dog’s upcoming Last of Us game is a one-and-done IP. I love zombies, but my askew perception of the movie and game industry due to constantly following all things thereunto pertaining has caused me to loathe a majority of games and movies planned as a series (especially planned trilogies…ugh).

 

Three more movies, Precious?

 

A little off topic, but why is the Hobbit a planned trilogy? Tolkein’s book was not that much longer than any of the others, and they all got one movie per. While I have no doubt that the movies will be good, I hate Peter Jackson for doing that. You want an example of a great movie that could have been done in two or three installments but was done flawlessly in one instead? One word, people...Watchmen. Watch and learn, Mr. Jackson. Condense your material and you have a much more potent product, like drinking 151 instead of Zima. Anyways, back to the topic:


        Moving away from the popular franchises that come out with annual installments, we come across another type of game developer with dreams of fan appeasement. Grand Theft Auto, The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, InFamous, Prototype and a literal crapton of Japanese RPG’s attempt to provide gamers with a wide, expansive play-through that is only limited by the gamers themselves. Only by rushing through the main story or attempting to experience literally everything do these games not adequately please the fanbase. Spend 200+ hours in Skyrim and you will see right through the simple and engaging yet flawed “hit stuff harder than it hits you until it dies” combat system. Spend only enough time fighting dragons that you are still enthralled with the intuitive and inventive leveling system and the game seems pretty genius. Some people enjoy the simplicity and story-driven and suspenseful point-and-click adventure of the Walking Dead series, while others think that it is limiting itself by not allowing combo moves or a progressive character-building engine like some of the aforementioned titles that involves the player getting personal with the experience. The Walking Dead series was meant as an interactive, episodic experience focusing on replay value and pure storytelling, not player skill or in-game tenure. Complaining about the Walking Dead games is like going to a strip club and complaining that the dancers aren’t good at Scrabble. That’s not what they get paid to do, so shutup and enjoy the things that the show DOES offer or leave to find your big-breasted Scrabble-jockey elsewhere.

The Perfect Woman?

 

        I guess the determining factor in how these games are designed comes down to past lessons and developer creativity. Obviously you don’t need me to tell you that Resident Evil is a strong movie and game franchise because they keep coming out with more of them. Think for a moment, though: Couldn’t the movies be better? I mean, really, I love Milla Jovovich but if they had someone truly genius at the helm for those movies I feel like they could have been something bigger and greater. Stan Lee originally asked Jack Kirby to draw Spider-Man, but after several renditions he found that Kirby couldn’t bring forth Stan’s true vision of what the wall-crawler was meant to look like. He then asked Steve Ditko, who delivered the character we know and love today. Point is, in the wrong hands we could have gotten a much different Spider-Man. In the right hands we could have gotten a much better Resident Evil movie series. This is why I go to bed every night whispering the almighty mantra of “In Whedon we trust.” The Avengers movie was an outstanding example of a movie that could have been bad or mediocre if it didn’t land in the hands of the one person who could pull it off THAT well.

No matter your personal taste, there are games being made for you. Professor X and Magneto saw eye-to-eye in the early stages of their relationship because they both wanted peace. It wasn’t until they both tried to achieve that peace that they went their separate and often criss-crossing paths. Game developers can epitomize what these characters stood for in regards to the multitude of gaming choices by being your hero or tragic villain. For those of you who remember the “Good old days” of RPG gaming, they are updating and adding to Bauldur’s Gate to bring it to PC’s this Fall. If you like puzzle games, there’s millions of those being developed for iPhones and Android devices (not to mention on PSN and XBLA). Action and RPG games are always gracing the market, along with a few surprise releases like HD remakes of our old favorites. It seems from the Podcast this past Sunday that the only person who isn’t getting the game they wanted is Tim AKA TheOneOshai, who seemed especially interested in playing a game called “Killing Me Softly”. Personally, I’m looking forward to Fall of Cybertron coming out sometime in late August; the idea of actually playing as a giant robot dinosaur with a limited vocabulary is just...remarkable.

 

 

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Charlie's Game Ideas!

Sometimes I find myself complaining about video games. This game is too short, that game is too long. The graphics aren’t good enough on this game; they should have spent time on something OTHER than graphics on that game. The story sucks on this game, and that game could have done without a story. I’m going to break away from this pessimistic pastime of mine and do something different: Come up with my own damn ideas. Here’s the first 3 of many to come!

Game #1: Bring back Yo! Noid. It was one of the hardest, most ridiculous and frustrating games on the NES and I loved every copyrighted minute of it. For those of you unfamiliar with the Noid, he’s this red bunny-looking guy that was in Domino’s pizza advertisements. The game itself could be based on the true story of Kenneth Lamar Noid, who thought that the Noid character was a personal attack on his character and on January 30, 1989 took hostages at his local Domino’s Pizza. In the game, you play as Kenneth and force the hostage employees to make more pizza, because more pizza equals more ransom money. Don’t ask how that makes sense, this guy is batshit nuts okay? There would be a Real-Time Strategy / Tower Defense element to the game as well, where you would block police officers from getting to you with cardboard boxes that the fictional Noid character could pop out of and stab/shoot/eat whole any trespassers. See, the appearance of the fictional character makes you wonder if it is really there, how crazy Kenneth Noid is and if the police are really the good guys. This is when you question your own sanity, and the genius of the Yo! Noid reboot is truly realized.

Game #2: Killing Me Softly. That’s the name of the game, though let me say now that it is based loosely on the Fugees song and not that movie where Heather Graham gets naked and Joseph Fiennes bangs his sister…though we may be able to mix the two. So this is at first glance your run-of-the-mill rhythm or music game like Rock Band or Guitar Hero, but there’s a masochistic Joseph Fiennes on the screen who wants to be punished for his incest by his on-screen wife Naked Heather Graham. If you mess up the song, she hurts him with a random item all BDSM style. If you’re good with these music games, Heather Graham dances around naked. If you suck at these games or if you want to see Naked Heather Graham beat up on some dude who likes his sister more than anybody else does, then you too can win big. Use the famous Fugees jam for the title screen, and you have a smash hit.

Game#3: “Batman: Arkham Toys R’ Us” is an idea I’ve had for a while. Take the engine from the previous Batman games, and set the caped crusader in an extremely large toy store. There’s just something honestly amusing about big ol’ Batman beating up on little snot-nosed toddler punks. Don’t dumb it down, either; Batman better be at least 30 years old in this game, and have the Joker be, like, seven years old. It’ll be creepy as hell, and you’ll feel so overpowered as The Dark Knight while punching badguy babies in their faces it will be the closest we’ve ever gotten to playing a good Superman game. In Japan, they’ll think this game is sexier and more provocative than game #2 so (naturally) sales will be awesome

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Video Game Movies: There’s No Cheat Codes

So there’s news floating around about a few movies based on video games in various stages of production, and I don’t know whether or not to be excited. I mean, on one hand these cinematic representations of our favorite game stories could be fresh, live-action companions to their interactive source material that satisfy our desire to actually BE a character by watching another live person deliver a correct personification. On the other hand, it could be Jean Claude Van Damme with a flat-top haircut or John Leguizamo doing anything and everything to start his acting career.

         I feel like the natural starting point for this piece is to ask an important question regarding these movies: Why? Other than the almighty dollar, of course. In the case of titles such as Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed, the story is so well developed already using the interactive medium; is there really that much to gain by making a movie about it? The answer is complicated, because there are things you could put into a movie that would be entertaining to watch but would not convert well to video game format.  I’ll put it to you this way: The Hangover series is entertaining, but I wouldn’t like to see a video game made from it. The point is that there are things like advanced character development, vivid imagery and a defined/decisive (read: linear) path taken that would look great in movie format but would be boring to play. The other way around is true as well, because it is mighty fun to go around collecting trophies and achievements in games but I see very few effective ways to incorporate that into movie form. There would, and has always been, compromises.

While considering how much is actually gained by telling the story in a different medium, also consider the deep, dark truth about converting ANY beloved franchise from its original format into a movie: The Fans will be extremely critical of the end product. Some of them will say that they hate it just to be cantankerous know-it-all cynics, because for some reason that’s the way to be these days for gamers and comic geeks. Just take a look at the internet forums flaming The Avengers, while I actually cried during the climax battle because of how awesome it was to see my dream of what a comic book movie could be finally realized.

Look at the response the Ninja Turtle movie was getting when Micheal Bay announced he was going to change their origin story away from what had been previously established. People wanted to burn Bay at the stake for his crime, and they hadn’t even gotten anything more than a vague statement! Getting back on topic, what if the actor they choose to play Nathan Drake is a dud? What if they get someone like Adrien Brody to play him? There seems to be a lot of applause and approval towards Michael Fassbender as the lead in the Assassin’s Creed movie, but the masses could get pretty hostile if the movie itself betrays the source material in a big way. It’s a tricky situation, because most fans have selective loyalty to their favorite franchise. Spider-Man fans were upset at the look for the costume worn by Spider-Man and the design for the Lizard in The Amazing Spider-Man, but I haven’t heard too much griping about the fact that Bane doesn’t use an advanced form of steroids in The Dark Knight Rises. Pumping himself full of that venom stuff and getting huge was a major premise with the Bane character, and Christopher Nolan has completely bypassed that. Nolan has even stated that he used Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities as his source material for the final movie in the Batman Trilogy, and everyone thinks he’s a genius. An unproven adapted franchise doesn’t have the same liberties because the fans still have their arms crossed about it, so any significant change made to the Uncharted or Assassin’s Creed stories by the folks in Hollywood is at their own risk. Just look at how divisive people are about the Resident Evil movies…some people love them, while others hiss and boo because it isn’t the same thing as the video games. I think the formula goes something like this: The better your movie is, the more liberties you can take in discerning it from the source material. If your movie sucks but you made it exactly like the fans wanted, then at least some fans will remain loyal to their brand and say it was good. Look at BloodRayne. If you make it awesome, you can get away with all sorts of stuff and the fans will call it dynamic and genius.

What about a game that doesn’t have such a cinematic premise behind it? Well, there’s a history of movie adaptations about games like that. The Need For Speed series has never been about plot, so by making a movie about it you give the creative team behind that movie a lot of wiggle room to create their own plot. In my opinion, this clearly did not work with The Super Mario Bros movie. The plot behind the Super Mario Bros game always seemed like an excuse to create the sidescrolly, platformy goodness. The first and third game had the extremely thin premise of “Save the Princess”, which was pretty commonplace considering other games like Donkey Kong. Hell, Mrs. Pac-Man had a fuller plot than Mario and Donkey Kong. When a movie was being made about the Mario games, it should have been easy:   

(1) Insert Mario Brothers, employ liberal amounts of character development while still moving the plot.

(2) Create a reason for the badguy more than “He stole the Princess” without attempting to create a sociopolitical masterpiece.

(3) Insert glorious amounts of fanfare, and stay true to what few plot elements there are.

What we ended up getting was crap on a stick. John Leguizamo was the best thing to come out of that movie, and I consider it him “taking his licks” on the way to better things. Same thing with The Pest, for that matter. Come to think of it, he’s only got like 2 good movies…yeah…

The Street Fighter series, at the time the movie came out, had such a thin and transparent plot outside of “There’s this tournament, see…” that you had to read the instruction manual just to know it. The movie adaptation frustratingly didn’t even feature a tournament for fighters, thus ignoring the ONE thing that was actually apparent about the plot of the games. The script, it turns out, was written overnight. I’m not joking.

Street Fighter’s more mature brother was none other than Mortal Kombat, a game notorious for its graphic violence displayed in the Fatality moves performed at the end of each fight. The plot, however, wasn’t much more than what Street Fighter boasted and thus left a lot of creative wiggle room. The movie version of Mortal Kombat was PACKED with fanfare, from Scorpion and Sub-Zero’s fatality moves to Johnny Cage’s splits-nutpunch move. The actors, other than Christopher Lambert, were capable but otherwise unknown. No one cared that in a country full of Asian people a white guy was their God of Lightning because Christopher Lambert is awesome. It’s kind of like when Sean Connery played a Russian in Hunt For Red October and kept his Scottish accent; he’s such a badass that no one cares. No one cared that reptile was an actual reptile in the movie because it was cool-looking and served a purpose. I thought it was a smart move, so as to not fall into the plight of the video game and have a bunch of characters who look the same but wear different colored vests.  The characters and story clicked in a way that few movies can achieve, and I count it as a success. Remember the theme song? Of course you do, in your head right now there’s a guy screaming “Mortal Kombaaaaat” to techno music if you aren’t actually screaming it yourself. Try it out, scream it loud during inappropriate times like punishing your kids or right as you lay down with a woman. The reactions are usually fun, and if the woman starts beat-boxing the theme song afterwards you know you found a keeper.

But what happens when you apply the theory of adding legitimate creative awesomesauce to a thin source plot in the case of, say, the Need For Speed franchise? You Get Fast & Furious 8 or a Gone in 60 Seconds remake. There really isn’t too many ways to do the premise of “People who drive cars” well. I wish them the best, but really it sounds like they just want to use the title “Need For Speed” more than they want to use any concept of the game. The director they have produced Act of Valor, so I have SOME faith, but only so much considering their writer is responsible for Real Steel. Personally, if you want to make a movie based on a driving game you can’t get more awesome than Spy Hunter. But that’s just me. The difficulty, as stated, lies in the fact that so many ideas are already taken up by existing movie franchises. There is apparently a Deus Ex movie in the works, and I can’t help but wonder what similarities it will have to the upcoming RoboCop reboot.

There is another type of video game we should talk about as far as movie adaptations, and that is when you have a silent protagonist. The point is, in the movie, you should create a character that doesn’t suck. Yes, Doom, we mean you. That movie sucked.

What do you think about the upcoming movie adaptations of some of our favorite video game franchises? 

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Clowns, Frowns, and Merry-Go-Rounds

Gaming has its own “professional” lingo, now. One word that I read about that was being tossed around at E3 was that games were being advertised as providing an “Asymmetrical” experience. This means that you and I could play the same game and have two different experiences depending on our choices. I have an older term to use in reference to the current developers that provide us with our digital goodness: Linearity.

                We gamers are being provided with experiences so similar to one another that it sometimes really is just a matter of visual preference these days.  Look at Role-Playing Games, which has in many cases devolved from the greatness it once was to a streamlined and very linear experience. Games like Bethesda IPs Skyrim and Fallout are rare. Let’s look at the Bioware RPG series Dragon Age and Mass Effect, which turns away from player choice and customization more with each installment. I’m not going to discuss in depth the problems with the Masss Effect 3 ending, it’s been done to death on every gaming website, but it proves my point that your perceived control was both irrelevant and an illusion. Dragon Age 2 is more worried about its well-written story than anything having to do with the gamer, providing us with another diluted Role-Playing experience. Not that these games are bad, per se, but I feel like I only have four of the five Power Rangers: Fighting with a robotic T-Rex is cool, but if it was just a little bit cooler we would have the badass mufuggin’ Megazord. Sigh…I digress.

                Batman: Arkham Asylum/City is considered THE superhero experience in video games. It has a great combat system that is both complex and easy to learn, an outstanding Batman story and challenges the player to use Batman’s many abilities against an especially creepy and believable Joker. Seriously, that clown is wicked. I LOVED the Joker in these games. The graphical style and voice acting was spot-on with the exception of a few characters (not a fan of Poison Ivy’s look). The first time you successfully attack from the shadows, the remaining enemies reward you by showing fear of The Batman. It would be stupid of game companies NOT to try and replicate the success of the Batman games, the same way that Hollywood has tried to replicate the success of the recent Batman movies by making everything “Darker” and “Grittier”. Just like with those movies, however, the game industry ends up providing a lackluster experience by only successfully replicating one or two aspects of the successful game without adding any improvements of their own that could differentiate them and be specific to their franchise. Case in point is the new Spider-Man game, which features pretty much the EXACT same combat system from the Batman games. This game, however, lacks a compelling story. Oh, and memorable characters. The voice acting sucks, too.

                I can’t tell you how disappointed I was, hoping for a good Spider-Man experience and receiving this lackluster game. Go ahead and spell it out for me, they wanted to release the game in time for the movie, I know that. If you were going to learn from Batman, why not learn NOT to tie your game to any movie. Why not learn NOT to rush production, and how could you NOT learn to innovate a little bit when it comes to creating a game that will net you loyal fans? This goes for MMO’s, action platformers that are all pretty much different skins of the same game (Darksiders, God of War and Dante’s Inferno, anyone?), and these loot-filled cookie-cutter RPG’s as well. You can only design a merry-go-round so many different ways; why not try to make something different that is still fun? Like a see-saw. Or a slide. Or a swingset. I’ll stop, but here’s the point: Innovate, people. Innovate.

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How Multiplayer Broke My Heart, and how it plans to do it again

The year was 2142. We had lost a lot of good men that day, and my heart had been hardened into accepting that we would lose many more before the battle was over. The enemy was just too persistent, ramming their endless supply of airships into every Gravity Tank and Mech we could get our hands on. Our forces were incapable of holding onto the missile silos for any amount of time, with the exception of one site: Mine. With a carefully hidden sniper, an assault trooper with more patience than most of his trigger-happy kin and a woefully handsome and incredibly talented Engineer(me) we deflected any and all attacks on Missile Silo 3. Holding that site against all odds, in conjunction with the constant efforts of my fellow clan members making trouble for the enemy elsewhere, is the reason we won that Titan Match.

                For those of you who have played Battlefield 2142, you know what I’m talking about. For those of you who haven’t because you were playing another multiplayer game, you have your own stories about something that could have ONLY been possible while playing with (and against) real people. Winning an online battle can carry with it a sense of pride and accomplishment that you just can’t get from other games, and defeat can inversely have the same effect.

                For me, it started with games like Contra. Eventually, Bomberman and Mario Kart brought my brother and I closer together than ever before. As the next Nintendo console graced us with outstanding titles like Star Fox, Mario Kart 64, Goldeneye and Perfect Dark I found myself enjoying the unpredictability of a human opponent far more than any AI-Controlled one. As I basked in the multiplayer glory that the N64 had given, I stumbled upon yet another title: Turok 2. I had a fondness for the series, and this title boasted (gasp!) a multiplayer component as well as the traditional single-player campaign. This concept had worked so well with Goldeneye, the idea of doing it with the Turok setting was simply titillating. I was stoked, to say the least. That is, until the first time I played it. The multiplayer maps were boring, the graphics took a huge dive and the mechanics were so lopsided it wasn’t funny. Turok 2, it turned out, was NOT built to be a multiplayer game. Turok 2 Multiplayer was like bacon-flavored beer: I loved the idea of it, but in practice it tasted like shit. Multiplayer, for the first time, broke my heart.

                Fast-forward to 2012. My Battlefield days are long gone, as is my short but glorious stint with the Call of Duty franchise. The multiplayer business is booming, with MW3 and BF3 leading the charge. Even Mass Effect 3 has a multiplayer aspect to it, and every online RPG would be wise to boast how great and balanced their PVP is. Some of these games were built to be multiplayer, a la Mario Kart 64. Think Left4Dead. Some of these games have both single-player and multiplayer greatness, just like Goldeneye and Starfox, or Halo/CoD. Some of these games, however, are like Turok 2. They leave you scratching your head and wondering why someone would sacrifice the integrity of their great game just to add a multiplayer component into it. Think Uncharted 2. You come expecting a great installment in a well-developed franchise and you get, well, heartbroken. We’re looking at you, Elder Scrolls Online. We’re looking at you like a battered woman looks at her husband. Just respect us, is all we ask. Respect.

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Gaming vs. Fishing: Which one was Grandpa better at?

“Does it have a start button?” The little boy asks. Grandpa replies with an assertive “Nope.”

“Does it have a reset button?” The little boy asks. Grandpa again answers: “Nope.”

“Does it have a flux capacitor?” The little boy sounds annoyed, now. He continues: “Does it have a transmogrifier? A dark-matter hyperdrive? What about a jetpack, or a giant robot lion representing one-fifth of Voltron, or a pocket dimension with which it can store inane things to surprise people with so at the least expected moment Jar-Jar Binks can jump out and ruin your perfectly good sci-fi series?” The Grandpa looks depressingly at his Grandson and says, “No, it doesn’t have any of those things. It’s just a fishing pole.” The boy finishes with “Fishing sucks.” Aaaand, Cut! That’s a wrap.

            The above is how I envision the situation playing out every time I hear that stupid commercial on the radio. The advertisement is for a sporting equipment store much like a Bass Pro Shop. The commercial makes it sound like the Grandpa is some wise sage bringing the child valuable and ancient knowledge of a tradition long lost by our fast-paced society. What it sounds like to me is that a sporting equipment store is focusing their advertisement campaign by making adults feel bad that they (and their children) don’t get outdoors more often. Just as country music would have you believe that driving a gas-guzzling pickup truck on an underdeveloped roadway while under the influence of alcohol and a memory of younger days is all you need in life, this notion is wholly misleading.

            I get my outside time, and I am talking outside of work. I know that some gamers play for days on end, even to the extreme of dying sometimes due to lack of sleep. Some gamers really could use some unplugging, let’s get that fact out of the way. Most gamers, however, have lives outside of their digital ones. Especially in respect to games like MW3, well, how do I put it…a LOT of military personnel play MW3. You wanna tell them to go outside? They do. For a living. How many fishermen do you know that can run three miles in twenty minutes? I’ve watched the fishing channel, the chances are slim and their waists are not. Let’s face it, fishing IS the video game of outdoors activities!

            I guess my big issue is the misnomer that gamers are inactive or lack real-world skills, or the even bigger misconception that video games cause people to be inactive and lack ambition for real things. The truth is that video games have a single purpose, and that is to entertain us. If there are people out there (and yes, they ARE out there) that let gaming take over their lives, then so be it. I don’t, and I challenge everyone who reads this to validate their activities outside of gaming as well. Not with me, mind you, but with yourself. All those people who criticize us for gaming and then watch a four-hour marathon of Swamp People on Netflix can say what they want about how outdoorsy they are.

“Grandpa, you wanna play WoW?” Grandpa smiles, “Let’s go pwn some bitches in PvP. Tell Grandma to grab her healer.” 

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